NYJO Virtual Academy gives experience of playing in a Big Band – and renews sense of community

Sebastian writes:  Faced with the challenge of how to adapt its educational work during lockdown, NYJO has put a brand new resource online. The Virtual Academy enables participants (of all ages!) to join in a virtual Big Band. The resource includes a wealth of resources. Participants can try out all of the printed parts in a chart and mute the one she or he is actually playing.  There are arrangements and compositions in many styles, and the NYJO educators give guidance via instructional videos.

The Virtual Academy landing page with a brief description

    NYJO have found that it is helping to re-connect  the strong community that exists around the orchestra. There has also been substantial behind-the-scenes work to keep the organisation’s funders and supporters aware and aligned with the activity. The logos of no fewer than thirteen of NYJO’s funders who have been consulted and are supporting this work on the VA homepage. NYJO’s Artistic Director, Mark Armstrong recently underlined the significance of this work: “We are at a unique moment in time when our communities have been separated, and it is crucial that we don’t allow our young musicians to feel disconnected. As always, our mission is to inspire, educate and bring people together; for now, we need to look at doing this in new ways.”    

A page from the Virtual Academy with links to explore..

  NYJO has put out a press release to explain the new initiative:   The NYJO Virtual Academy is “broken down into four key areas:
  • NYJO’s primary goal was to first recreate the feeling of playing in a band with its ‘NYJO Minus One’ project.
  • Using their extensive library of recordings, it provided audio packages that can be used to mute and loop parts, thus enabling remote practise sessions to exist at home.
  • This was followed with a ‘Virtual Video’ series and a myriad of other resources that seek to explore this history of the artform whilst inspiring and educating young jazz musicians in the process.
  • NYJO’s mission has always to been to provide additional support for young musicians who aren’t able to travel to its London-base. With its mantra of “levelling the playing field in jazz education” remaining a North Star for its Learning & Participation projects, NYJO has sought to reach out to music hubs and education partners throughout the UK. Thus far, the NYJO Virtual Academy has been integrated into the virtual learning timetables in Devon, Cardiff, Worcester, Northants, Leicester, Darlington, Cumbria & Lancashire.
“We have never believed in a one-size-fits-all approach.” states Head of L&P, Claire Furlong, “We were really proud to have reached 10,000 young people in more than 360 workshops in 2019. We always try to remain flexible and provide support that is responsive to the different needs of music communities around the country – especially in areas where music provision is so scarce. These aims have remained the same when it comes to providing online-support during lockdown, and it’s been amazing to see such a national spread of involvement so far.” Head of Cardiff & Vale Music Service, David Miller, has been utilising the NYJO online resources since being introduced to the material last month: “It’s great to feel part of a bigger project and know that wherever we are in the UK we can all share our love of music and, in particular, Jazz.”. NYJO’s current activities are now full of online sessions for a variety of different age groups and skillsets. For its London and Regional Academies, the diary presents a timetable that mirrors what would be a regular terms commitment – ensuring that the learning and support remains consistent – whilst midweek sessions focus on important professional development opportunities for members of NYJO’s leading ensembles – an array of young professionals at the start of their careers. One of these emerging talents, NYJO vocalist Lucy-Anne Daniels, was one of eight musicians to join a recent video-call with NYJO’s Royal Patron, HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex. On the call, Lucy-Anne highlighted the importance of these sessions for her: “We have talks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays where Roger [Head of Professional Development] has brought people in from the industry. The business side of music has been covered too and I definitely feel more confident with that side of things.” END OF QUOTE FROM PRESS RELEASE  

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